Sources: Biden plans to nominate Lina Khan, a legal scholar championed by anti-Big Tech activists who wrote “Amazon's Antitrust Paradox”, as an FTC commissioner (Politico)

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DRIVING THE DAY

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — President JOE BIDEN has decided to nominate LINA KHAN, a Columbia University legal scholar championed by anti-Big Tech activists, to the Federal Trade Commission.

Along with the recent hiring of TIM WU as an economic adviser inside the White House — also first reported in Playbook — the addition of Khan signals that Biden is poised to pursue an aggressive regulatory agenda when it comes to Amazon, Google, Facebook and other tech giants.

An FBI agent this week was making calls to Khan’s associates for her background check, the final part of the vetting process before a major administration job is officially announced. Sources confirmed Khan is headed to the FTC if she survives Senate confirmation.

The addition of Khan and Wu represents a massive shift in philosophy away from the era of BARACK OBAMA, who proudly forged an alliance between the Democratic Party and Big Tech.

At the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, a top Obama adviser marveled that Google’s ERIC SCHMIDT, then the company’s CEO, had worked so closely with the Obama campaign on its tech infrastructure that the work and advice should have been considered a massive in-kind donation. In office the Obama White House and Silicon Valley had a symbiotic relationship.

The ascendance of Khan and Wu, two of the most important intellectuals in the recent progressive antitrust revival, signals a break with that past and hints that Biden is sympathetic to the left’s view that Obama’s laissez-faire policies helped engender the populist backlash that ended with DONALD TRUMP’S election.

Adding Khan to the FTC, a move that will likely be greeted with alarm by the tech industry, also suggests that the White House is already laying the groundwork for a second act that will include a big regulatory push once its early legislative agenda runs its course.

LEAH NYLEN, POLITICO’s antitrust reporter on the tech team, emails with more:

— Khan would be one of three Democratic commissioners at the agency, which oversees privacy, data security and some antitrust enforcement, at a time when it’s faced sharp criticism for not doing enough to police major tech firms like Google and Facebook over their privacy practices and past mergers. At 32, she’d also be the youngest FTC commissioner ever.

— Her bona fides: Khan served as an aide to the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee’s probe into antitrust and major tech platforms including Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. As part of the 16-month investigation, Khan honed in on Google’s conduct in the online search market. Before that she was a fellow at the FTC and argued for the agency to adopt rules that would more clearly spell out when companies violate competition law.

— Doing her homework: While a law student at Yale, Khan authored a groundbreaking paper, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” exploring how the online retail giant’s conduct, particularly its pricing practices, could violate antitrust law.

A SLEEPER ISSUE IN 2022 — One of the criticisms of the Covid relief bill is that it would yank away generous aid to poor families after a year, potentially pushing them right back into poverty. AP zeroed in on the politics of the bill’s temporary child care tax credit in an article Monday, and it’s also worth paying attention to.

A few key grafs from the story: “[T]he expanded benefits included in the coronavirus relief plan set up a precedent that could put Republicans on defense on the issue. Because the benefit currently expires after a year, the Biden plan essentially creates a potential fiscal cliff for child poverty. This could set up a political showdown during an election year on whether voters believe it’s acceptable for millions of children to lose the added aid and become impoverished once again.

“‘When it’s up for renewal, Republicans will be in the awkward position of opposing payments to families delivered through a credit that they pioneered, and championed as recently as 2017,’ said Samuel Hammond, director of poverty and welfare policy at the Niskanen Center. … ‘No Republican wants to run on taking money away from families of any income.’” The full story

WHEN MAR-A-LAGO FUNDRAISER ≠ TRUMP ENDORSEMENT Alabama GOP Senate hopeful LYNDA BLANCHARD is holding a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night, according to an invite snagged by Playbook. You’d think that means Blanchard, Trump’s former ambassador to Slovenia, is getting his endorsement in the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. RICHARD SHELBY. But that assumption would be wrong.

Though Blanchard is tight with top Trump confidante STEPHEN MILLER, another aide said the fundraiser “should not be viewed as President Trump showing favoritism to any candidate as he has not endorsed in the race. There’s no imminent endorsement in this race.” Another potential candidate, GOP Rep. MO BROOKS, has also played up his relationship with the former president. (Former Trump administration official CLIFF SIMS told the former president’s inner circle recently he’s not running.)

At the last two fundraisers held at Mar-a-Lago, Trump came down to speak for 10 minutes to endorse Sen. MIKE LEE (R-Utah) and South Dakota Gov. KRISTI NOEM. The question for Blanchard is whether she simply landed a prime venue for a fundraiser — or whether Trump (despite his aide’s pronouncement) will make an appearance and give her a hearty endorsement, too. Tickets are going for $2,900 apiece. The invite

BIDEN’S TUESDAY — The president and VP KAMALA HARRIS will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. Biden will visit a small business in D.C. that got a Paycheck Protection Program loan at 11:45 a.m.

— Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 1:30 p.m. along with BHARAT RAMAMURTI, deputy director of the National Economic Council.

THE HOUSE will meet at 10 a.m. House Dems will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m.

THE SENATE will meet at 3 p.m. There will be votes at 5:30 p.m. to invoke cloture on the nominations of MARCIA FUDGE for HUD secretary and MERRICK GARLAND for A.G. The Judiciary Committee will have a hearing at 9 a.m. on the nominations of LISA MONACO for deputy A.G. and VANITA GUPTA for associate A.G.

PLAYBOOK READS

FILIBUSTER WATCH

JOE VS. JOE — “Biden won’t embrace filibuster reforms even as the rest of his party does,” by Laura Barrón-López: “‘The president’s preference is not to get rid of the filibuster,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, repeating Biden’s position on maintaining the rule. ‘His preference is not to make different changes to the rules, to the filibuster rules.’ Psaki’s statement was a reassertion of the White House’s long-standing position.

“But it came at a semi-critical juncture for the filibuster reform movement. On Sunday, one leading opponent of eliminating the filibuster, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), expressed a willingness to make changes to the rule, prompting a wave of jubilation among progressives who have pushed for reforms.

“The president’s reluctance to go as far as one of his party’s most moderate members puts him at odds with civil rights leaders, labor and social justice advocates, as well as an increasing number of Democrats in and out of Congress. Eventually, they say, Biden is going to have to address the issue more directly rather than stick to carefully-crafted statements.”

SINEMA’S TAKE — “Will Kyrsten Sinema Change Her Mind?” The Atlantic: “Sinema’s approach has made her perhaps the most enigmatic member of the new Democratic majority. She began her career as an anti-war activist during the George W. Bush administration and then transformed herself into a centrist, becoming in 2018 the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Arizona in 30 years.

“‘Quite frankly, Kyrsten may be the most skilled political figure in Arizona,’ Representative Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican and a loyalist of former President Donald Trump, told me. Biggs is friendly with Sinema and voted to object to the counting of his state’s electoral votes in January. ‘She reads her constituency as good as or better than virtually any person in political life that I know,’ Biggs said, adding that perhaps the only other politician he puts in the same category is Trump.”

CONGRESS

COVID RELIEF UPDATE — “Dems ready to leap on Biden’s $1.9T Covid aid plan as final vote nears,” by Sarah Ferris: “Democrats are readying a final vote on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package as soon as Tuesday, executing on the measure in less than eight weeks – and making a political bet on mammoth federal spending to boost the economy.

“In the House, which will send the bill to Biden’s desk, Democratic lawmakers and aides acknowledged that a passage vote could slip to Wednesday as Senate officials race to prepare necessary paperwork. But they vowed a one-day delay would not have an impact on boosted jobless benefits set to expire this weekend.”

MUCK READ — “Rep. Dan Crenshaw Decided Pandemic Was Perfect Time to Buy and Not Disclose Stocks,” The Daily Beast: “Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) did not buy or sell any stocks in his first 13 months as a congressman. That changed in March 2020, when he made half a dozen buys as the largest economic relief package in history was written and debated.

“Five of those purchases came in the three days between March 25 and 27, as the Senate and House voted on the CARES Act and former President Trump signed it into law. Crenshaw, who supported the bill, did not initially disclose the transactions, in violation of the STOCK Act … The trades, which are listed only in a range of values, add up to a maximum of $120,000, and do not compare in size or volume to the kinds of headline-grabbing transactions executed ahead of the pandemic by Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.”

POLICY CORNER

WHAT THEY’RE READING IN MIAMI — “Biden administration to give temporary protected status to thousands of Venezuelans in U.S.,” L.A. Times: “The White House on Monday announced a temporary protected status decree that could allow tens of thousands of Venezuelans who fled their homeland to remain in the United States with legal standing.

“The program marks a significant shift in U.S. policy from the Trump administration, which denied Venezuelans protection even as President Trump tried to overthrow the leftist government in Caracas. … The decision announced Monday will be issued through executive order rather than wending its way through Congress, and could benefit more than 320,000 people.”

MEANWHILE, ON THE BORDER — NYT: “The number of unaccompanied migrant children detained along the southern border has tripled in the last two weeks to more than 3,250, filling facilities akin to jails as the Biden administration struggles to find room for them in shelters, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.”

PANDEMIC

TRACKER: The U.S. reported 669 new Covid-19 deaths and 40,340 new coronavirus cases Monday. 1.7 million doses of vaccine were given Monday.

THE EQUITY QUESTION — “Kamala Harris announces $250 million in funding to help address COVID response inequities,” CBS: “[T]he funding … is targeted at organizations that are encouraging underserved and minority populations to get COVID-19 vaccinations and adopt safety practices to help them avoid contracting the virus.

“The initiative, called Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19, will be run by HHS’ Office of Minority Health and will provide grants to localities partnering with community-based organizations.”

POLITICS ROUNDUP

LINCOLN LOGS — “Inside the Lincoln Project’s Secrets, Side Deals and Scandals,” NYT: “[Steve] Schmidt and the three other men who started the Lincoln Project — John Weaver, Reed Galen and Rick Wilson — had already quietly moved to set themselves up in the new enterprise, drafting and filing papers to create TLP Media in September and October, records show. Its aim was to transform the original project, a super PAC, into a far more lucrative venture under their control.

“This was not the only private financial arrangement among the four men. Shortly after they created the group in late 2019, they had agreed to pay themselves millions of dollars in management fees, three people with knowledge of the deal said. … Fresh reporting by The Times found that Mr. Weaver’s inappropriate behavior was brought to the organization’s attention multiple times last year, beginning in January 2020.” Plus tons more details

WHAT THE RIGHT IS READING — “H.R. 1 Is a Partisan Assault on American Democracy,” National Review op-ed

CUOMO LATEST — “Publisher Halts Promotion of Cuomo Book, Citing Nursing Homes Inquiry,” NYT

TRUMP CARDS

MAR-A-LAGO FOR THE NIGHT — “RNC moves portion of its spring donor retreat to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club,” WaPo: “The move, which highlights the former president’s continued grip over the GOP, comes amid a spat over the use by RNC and other Republican organizations of Trump’s likeness and image in fundraising, as well as anxiety about how Trump plans to use his influence in the 2022 midterms.

“The weekend retreat in early April for the party’s most influential donors will be at a luxury hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., as in past years. But the RNC has decided to move the Saturday evening portion of the schedule to the former president’s private club to accommodate Trump and guests who would like to visit the site, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the plans.”

LATEST CEASE-AND-DESIST TWIST — “RNC brushes back Trump team on ‘cease-and-desist’ demand,” by Alex Isenstadt: “In a letter sent Monday afternoon to Trump attorney Alex Cannon, RNC chief counsel Justin Riemer asserted that the committee ‘has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals.’”

MEANWHILE, TRUMP FORGES AHEAD … WaPo’s Josh Dawsey notes: “Trump with a message and an explicit ask to send him money, and not other Republicans.” The email

IN THE FINANCES — “NYC prosecutors’ probe into Trump finances expands to include millions loaned for Chicago skyscraper,” CNN: “The Manhattan district attorney’s office subpoenaed documents from an investment company that loaned the Trump Organization millions of dollars for its Chicago skyscraper in a sign that the investigation into the former president’s finances continues to expand, according to people familiar with the investigation.

“Prosecutors issued the grand jury subpoena to Fortress Investment Management late last year, the people said, as part of their wide-ranging investigation into former President Donald Trump and his company.”

BEYOND THE BELTWAY

IN MINNEAPOLIS — “Jury selection to move forward in murder trial of Derek Chauvin, despite ongoing dispute over third charge in George Floyd’s death,” WaPo: The judge overseeing the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death said he would move forward with jury selection Tuesday despite an ongoing dispute over the possible reinstatement of a third-degree murder charge that threatens to delay the case.

“Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter A. Cahill’s decision to press forward with the trial of Derek Chauvin, 44, who is accused of killing Floyd, 46, by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes during a police investigation last May, drew an immediate appeal from prosecutors and raised eyebrows among legal observers, who said the unusual maneuver could later be grounds for a defense appeal to have the case thrown out.”

MEDIAWATCH

DRAMA AT ONE WORLD TRADE CENTER: “Teen Vogue staffers question Alexi McCammond’s hire as editor in chief ‘in light of her past racist and homophobic tweets,’” CNN: “A group of 20 Teen Vogue staff members sent a letter to management on Monday expressing concern over their recently appointed editor in chief, Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond.

“According to a note published on Twitter by Teen Vogue’s staffers, the concerns expressed in the letter center around a number of racist and homophobic tweets McCammond wrote, some of which were posted in 2011.”

FLASHBACK: This is not the first time that a Condé Nast publication has been enmeshed in a scandal about alleged racism. Who can forget this cover that The New Yorker’s David Remnick published in 2008 and which is still for sale on Condé’s website?

PLAYBOOKERS

SAD NEWS “Biden German Shepherd has aggressive incident and is sent back to Delaware,” CNN

BILL AND GEORGE OUT OF HIDING — “White House returns portraits of Bill Clinton and George W Bush to prominent place in foyer after Trump hid them in room used for storage,” Daily Mail

SPOTTED at the virtual launch for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s 2021 Report on Reports: “A Roadmap for U.S. Global Leadership” (read it here): national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Rep. Deborah Ross (D-N.C.), Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin, Michelle Nunn, Mary Fallin, Peter Roskam, Carmen Villar, Sean Callahan, Kristin Lord, Myron Brilliant, Bill Lane, Peter Yeo, George Ingram, Andrew Tisch, Mark Green, Karl Hofmann, Sarah Mendelson, Douglas Hartwick, retired Gen. Kip Ward and Liz Schrayer.

HOT JOB: Executive director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — TRUMP ALUMNI: David Lasseter has opened Horizons Global Solutions, focusing on consulting and government services. He most recently was deputy assistant secretary of Defense for countering WMD.

EAST WING ARRIVAL LOUNGE — Amber Macdonald is now speechwriter for first lady Jill Biden. She most recently was associate director of the Presidential Inauguration Committee and a speechwriter for the Biden campaign, and is an Obama HHS alum.

STAFFING UP — “Obama’s lawyer on the Netflix and Spotify deals is going into the Biden Treasury Department,” Insider: “Addar Levi, the top lawyer for the Obama Foundation and an attorney from the former president’s personal office, is joining the Treasury Department as deputy general counsel in the coming weeks.”

TRANSITIONS — Alex Calabro will be PAC director and mid-Atlantic deputy finance director at the DSCC. He most recently was a fundraising consultant at Chraca Friedman Group. … Terrence Hart is now general counsel at the Association of American Publishers. He most recently was assistant general counsel at the U.S. Copyright Office. …

… Aaron White is now director of comms for the Progressive Policy Institute. He previously was comms director for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.). Carter Christensen, PPI’s former comms director, will join Edelman’s D.C. office to work with the Energy Department.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) and Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) … Kimberly GuilfoyleCharlie GibsonMichael Kinsley (7-0) … Faith DanielsKristy CampbellRaj Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation … John BisognanoTiffany MullerSarah SwinehartDavid Hume Kennerly … former Sen. James Buckley (Conservative-N.Y.) (98) … Newsy’s Andrew RaffertyJake LipsettBianca Padró Ocasio … POLITICO’s Leah NylenWarren RojasSadie Weiner … NBC’s Doug Adams … Gallup’s Margaret CarlsonBrooks KraftHarry FonesKatie SchoettlerPolly Zintak Desien … Time’s Haley Sweetland EdwardsAmit PaleyTom MatzzieLinnaea Honl-Stuenkel … GM’s Reagan Payne … E&E’s Adam Aton and Laura BamfordMatt Vogel … Facebook’s David Ginsberg … Rev. E. Terri LaVelleNeal ShapiroBailey La Sage, who recently started as digital director for the House Natural Resources GOP

Got a document to share? A birthday coming up? A tip on the next big Biden appointment? Drop us a line at [email protected] or individually: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.

Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike Zapler and producers Allie Bice, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross.

This content was originally published HERE

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